Cheltenham Report – Disley’s Skidmark

January 16, 2006

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Saturday afternoon saw a spectacle at Whaddon Road which was a great advert for League 2 football.

Rovers travelled to face 4th placed Cheltenham light of key players, ruled out by suspension. James Hunt was out after a red card at Rushden earnt him a three match ban and Steve Elliott also had to sit the match out after a yellow card on New Year’s Eve against Wycombe earnt him a suspension through the totting up rule. With tickets sold out ten days before the day of the match, and Rovers going back to Cheltenham to get more to meet demand for travelling fans, it was always going to be a big match with a big atmosphere.

Over Christmas, Rovers had accumulated 7 points out of a possible 12 and had games go their way too, so this was a crucial game if the march on a possible play off place was to continue. The general feeling was one of maybe being happy with a point, but with key players missing, optimism was playing a large part in this prediction. The one sliver of hope was that with the home side facing an FA Cup replay with a prize of a game with Newcastle for the victor, it just might be that Cheltenham may just be distracted enough for us to take advantage.

[image2] Craig Hinton took the captain’s armband for the day. He had barely warmed it up when in the 2nd minute of play he took a nasty blow to the head and had to be replaced by John Anderson.

Cheltenham made the early running creating three early chances though none troubled Shearer. Then on 18 minutes Richard Walker was pulled back and Rovers had a free kick just outsiude the penalty box. Jamie Forrester stepped up and hit a curled free kick every bit as good as a Beckham one to give Rovers the lead and leave Shane Higgs grasping air. It was deserved, as all too often of late Rovers have p[ressed hard for half an hour with no reward, but this really put them in the driving seat.

Rovers were in the ascendancy now and the goal was followed up with a headed effort from Gibb, a fierce shot from Haldane and an effort from Disley that was scrabbled away for a corner by a Cheltenham defence that was in disarray.

[image3] Late in the first half, Odejayi was through one on one with Shearer, but Shearer saved well with his legs and Rovers went in a goal to the good at the break.

Despite getting no protection from the referee, Haldane continued as he had left off in the second half, causing problems for the Cheltenham defence with his pace and making a fair few half chances for himself. Forrester also danced his way through the home defence only to get the ball caught up as he was about to shoot.

Soon, Cheltenham were appealing for a penalty after Odejayi went down in the Rovers box, but the referee was not impressed by a forward who had been falling over far too easily all afternoon and he let play continue. Soon after, the home side were on level terms as Gillespie blasted home from inside the box in the 70th minute. [image4]

From this point, Cheltenham seemed to turn the wick up and started to have the lion’s share of the posession, believing they would now go on to win. Rovers keeper Shearer was let off the hook after a half clearance fell to Wilson who skied over the bar from close to the goal. Cheltenham fans held their heads in their hands as just before that Sammy Igoe had also gone close for Rovers.

Then Cheltenham scored in what seemed to be a hammer blow for Rovers. A cross came into the box and Odejayi met it with a header, but despite Shearer seemingly clearing off the line, the refree’s assistant awarded a goal to the home side in the 88th minute.

It seemed so unfair on the travelling supporters, who had witnessed a fair display by their side, but before anyone could even start to feel sorry for themselves, Rovers were level through a Craig Disley bullet header after a great cross from the left from Agogo who replaced the tiring Haldane.

[image5] Disley went wild, the Rovers faithful went wild, delighted to have gained a point from a difficult game, and Craig Disley left his mark with a goal celebration that included an 18 foot skid mark, but it wasn’t over yet. There were 4 minutes of added time to be played and having timed it, I am sure we played nearer to 6!

With less than 90 seconds to go, Rovers pulled off an amazing comeback with John Anderson rising to head home a late late winner for Rovers.

A fantastic day, a well earned victory and good enough to get a special mention on The Championship programme on ITV on Sunday morning too! The result leaves Rovers in 9th place just a point off the play offs. People have been worrying about Agogo being prised away from us, with the kind of turn around Paul Trollope is performing, we should make sure we can hold on to him too!

Next up this Saturday is Chester at the Mem. We owe them for a 4-0 drubbing under Ian Atkin’s leadership. It’s another big game for us and we can play our part on the terraces and in the stands by giving our team our unswerving support and encouragement.

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